Scott Ferguson previews the action from Wimbledon on Tuesday with two strong fancies picked out.
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Alison Riske v Serena Williams
Not the quarter-final match-up we expected with Alison Riske proving too strong for number one seed Ash Barty yesterday, suppressing the Aussie's power game and devouring almost two-thirds of the second serves she faced. Riske's penchant for grass simply rolls on.
Serena Williams wasted little time against Carla Suarez Navarro, a player with simply no weapons to trouble the seven-time champion, especially on grass. Suarez-Navarro's heavy topspin just sits up into Williams' hitting zone and for the seventh time, she was dispatched winning fewer than six games.
In contrast, this match-up is one that can trouble Serena. Riske will move the veteran all over the court, preying on her perceived poor movement and the flatter ground strokes will be more difficult to deal with. Riske also won 65% of points on both first and second serve against Barty, a better return-of-serve than Williams and in the current stages of their careers, more mobile.
Serena always improves throughout a major tournament, and she is as poorly prepared for an event as she has ever been with a lack of match conditioning. Hitting out against an impatient Julia Goerges and teeing off against Suarez Navarro is winning form but she is yet to face a player with the court sense and craftiness to truly stretch her.
My biggest concern for Riske is that she has started slowly in most of her matches so far. She's unlikely to be able to get away with that against the greatest female player of all time. Play safe to win a set at evens if you like, but I'm going for the knockout punch.
Best bet: 1pt Alison Riske to win at 11/4
Barbora Strycova v Johanna Konta
Two survivors of three-set seed slayings on Magic Monday take the second slot on Centre Court on Tuesday but the way they reached this point varies significantly.
Barbora Strycova was in all sorts of bother at 4/6 2/5 against Elise Mertens, being outplayed on most levels until the Belgian picked up a lower back injury, which noticeably restricted her movement. Strycova won the next nine games and it was all over, the Mertens defence - her strongest asset - was gone and the Czech waltzed away with the match. That lucky break earned her, at least, an extra £118k, the difference in prize money between round four and quarter-final exits.
Johanna Konta withstood the early barrage from Petra Kvitova, matching her on serve until she dropped a couple of key points to concede the set. The Brit broke immediately to start the second set and then took control of the match, with Kvitova fading as the match went on: part pressure, part fatigue and match conditioning.
This pair have clashed once before, indoors late in 2017 in Tokyo, always a funny time of year as the major tournaments have finished and some players are mentally done for the season. The scoreline, 7-5 7-6 to Strycova suggests that just a handful of key points determined the result. Konta served poorly that day, landing less than 50% of first serves, and the clash was in the middle of a five-match losing streak for her, the start of a cycle where her ranking dropped from 7 to 22 between The Championships of 2017 and 2018. I suggest we can almost ignore that history.
Konta is back near her best this season, her 2019 record stands at 36-12 and her stats are in far better shape than that date in Tokyo. She is also accustomed to speed of the stadium showcourts rather than those outside. I think she will win this comprehensively.
Best bet: 3pts Johanna Konta to win in straight sets at evens